By Magda Katz
What do you get when you blend four magnificent voices in one show.? Yes, you get Magic – the show’s theme on Saturday night at the Schimmel Center. Creator and Host Deborah Grace Winer presented “Feeling Wicked-The Magical Side of the American Songbook.
Deborah Grace Winer is a leading expert on the classical American Songbook. For nine seasons she reigned as the Artistic Director of the 92Y’s “ Lyrics & Lyricists” series and has now brought that format to the Schimmel Center.
For the Schimmel Center journey into the Great American Songbook, Ms. Winer chose songs by Harold Arlen, Lerner and Loewe, Cy Coleman, Stephen Schwartz, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Disney classics and more. They all wrote songs that dealt with Neverland . . . the Neverland of beauty, beasts, wishes, and happily ever after.
The evening was given the magic touch by vocalist Darius de Hass, Jenn Gambatese, Linda Purl, and Matthew Scott. It opened with Matthew Scott singing Leslie Bricusse & Anthony Newley’s “Pure Imagination.” The other three singers joined him on stage with Moose Charlap and Carolyn Leigh’s “I’m Flying” from Peter Pan. Deborah Grace Winer cleverly wove the evening songs together with backstage stories of how these songs were composed and what role they played in the shows.
Linda Purl thrilled the audience with her interpretation of Burton Lane & Alan Jay Lerner’s “What Did I Have That I Don’t Have?” This song became a pop song recorded by many famous recording artists. By Ms. Weiner explaining the meaning of the song in the show On A Clear Day You Can See Forever, the song took on another life. Ms. Purl gave a powerful interpretation of the song.
Jenn Gambatese has a beautiful and formidable voice. She nailed Mary Rodgers & Marshall Barer’s “Happily Ever After” from Once Upon a Mattress. It’s a difficult comedy song that made Carol Burnett famous.
Darius de Haas is a singer that can make the Yellow Pages sound like the Great American Songbook. His interpretation of Cy Coleman & Carolyn Leigh’s “Witchcraft” is only rivaled by Frank Sinatra.
Matthew Scott rounded out this dynamic cast showing off his playful side when he sang Jule Styne, Betty Comden & Adolph Green’s “Captain Hook’s Waltz” in the character of Captain Hook as he mischievously danced and sang around the stage.
Musical director and arranger for the evening John Oddo used his own brand of magic to lead a top notch band that included Ray Marchica on drums and percussion, Charles Pillow on reeds and Dick Sarpola on bass.
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View performance photos here.